Spread the love

Two French doctors recount the “unspeakable” situation of overwhelmed hospitals in Gaza

Photo: Agence France-Presse “We are in a situation which is unspeakable, which is unjustifiable,” said French infectious disease specialist Pascal André.

Fanny Kyriakides – Agence France-Presse in Marseille

March 19, 2024

  • Middle East

They tell of the lack of antiseptics and patients screaming in pain, “preventable deaths.” Returning after several weeks at the European Hospital in Gaza, two French doctors described surgical procedures carried out in “terrible” conditions in the war-ravaged Palestinian enclave.

“There is no longer any way to ensure asepsis [prevention of infectious diseases] in a hospital department,” summarized Monday Doctor Khaled Benboutrif, Toulouse emergency physician, who visited in the southern Gaza Strip on January 22 with the Palmed medical association, which specializes in helping Palestinians, and remained there until February 6.

“We couldn't find anywhere to treat, there was no stretcher […], we were forced to treat seriously injured people on the ground,” added the sixty-year-old during a press conference in Marseille.

His colleague Pascal André, a trained infectious disease specialist, noted between February 8 and 22 that “a lot of patients have serious postoperative infections” because the theater “is not sufficiently clean” in the absence of antiseptic.

“We are in a situation which is unspeakable, which is unjustifiable,” declared the French doctor.

The war in the Gaza Strip was sparked by an October 7 attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of at least 1,160 people, most civilians, according to a count by Agence France-Presse based on official Israeli data.

The Israeli military operation launched in retaliation left more than 31,700 dead in the Gaza Strip, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

“The surgery is done in conditions that are terrible because people cannot clean themselves properly beforehand,” explained Pascal André.

For Doctor Benboutrif, the conflict has lasted so long that there is “no longer any question” for the caregivers at the European hospital “of being able to maintain the slightest organization”.

Thus, underlines the emergency doctor, “the laboratory was completely faulty […] therefore the slightest examination necessary for diagnosis, for follow-up, was not possible.”

Also read

  • Israel's aid restrictions to Gaza 'could constitute war crime'
  • Canada to accept more refugees from Gaza
  • “A tragedy on a large scale” in Gaza, between famine and bombings

“Avoidable” deaths

One of the difficulties is that many people displaced by the fighting have found refuge “in the corridors, in the waiting rooms, in the stairwells” and even in “some elevators, everywhere” in the hospital, assured Khaled Benboutrif.

Despite everything, “patient care must continue in total disorder,” he added.

“I saw patients in intensive care who had tubes in their mouths, who were ventilated and who had their eyes open because there was not enough hypnotic,” the doctor recounted with emotion. André, explaining that many humanitarian aid trucks remain stuck at the Egyptian border.

Israel controls the entry of land aid into Gaza, which remains very insufficient given the immense needs of the 2.4 million inhabitants, the vast majority of whom are threatened with famine, according to the UN.

The doctor, based in Rodez, in Aveyron, assured that some patients were “screaming because there was no anesthetic” and indicated that the lack of medication was affecting those affected. of a long illness.

In February, he saw a young mother die “because she did not have access to treatment for her diabetes”. These are “deaths that are totally avoidable, and that we don’t talk about, that aren’t counted,” he lamented.

In addition to the victims of bombings, Doctor Benboutrif said he received in the emergency room “many victims of snipers“.

“It was clear that children were being shot. It was well planned, it was well calculated,” underlined the doctor, referring to the case of an 11-year-old girl who became quadriplegic after being hit by a bullet in the neck.

The two doctors regret the lack of attention given to their testimony since their return to Europe. “I am suffering from this silence,” concluded Doctor André.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116